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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Prayer Fellowship – Graebner & Albrecht, Part 1 (Statement of 44)

To follow-up Friedrich Bente's wonderful essay on the "Fathers" of the old (German) Missouri Synod, I am now going to publish 2 pamphlets on the subject of "Prayer Fellowship", both in English.  These were published a little more than 20 years after Bente's essay and show the great divide that happened in the intervening years that were marked by 2 overarching events:
  1. the death of Franz Pieper in 1931 and
  2. the denial of the true doctrine of Justification by Theodore Graebner in 1939
In 1945, Graebner was pursuing his relentless attacks against the Christian faith in essay after essay, mixing false teaching with truth... in numerous books published by CPH and in various periodicals such as the Lutheran Witness and The American Lutheran.  And one of his books is entitled "Prayer Fellowship".  This subject is of current interest for the LC-MS and President Matthew Harrison as he recently attempted to discipline a pastor for unionistic practice in a religious program for the Newtown massacre.  Although Harrison seemed to be following Walther's teaching, yet he backed down with an apology.  Harrison could come up with all kinds of reasons to apologize from Graebner's book.  Below are downloadable files of this book which are not available elsewhere on Google Books:
Theodore Graebner was especially dangerous because he could speak the Lutheran "lingo"... he had worked "shoulder-to-shoulder" with Franz Pieper and Friedrich Bente.  He knew enough truth so that he could mix his errors with it and so deceive the people of the LC-MS.

But this blog post is not about Graebner's erros, it is rather about the masterful refutation by Prof. Walter W.F. Albrecht who was one of the early translators of Franz Pieper's Christliche Dogmatik into the English Christian Dogmatics.  He was a professor at Springfield, Illinois, not St. Louis, and apparently staved off the horrible effects of Graebner for a period of time and allowed Concordia Theological Seminary to hold fast the faithful Word longer.  A writer for Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly (CHIQ, vol. 77-78, page 250) said in 2004 that Albrecht was
...a bit of an enigma. He tended to be caustic and hypercritical with a little of the rebel in him. On the other hand, he could be friendly...
The reason that Albrecht was called "caustic" and "hypercritical" is because he was a faithful servant of God's Word among the errorists and so is called "caustic, hypercritical" by them when attacking false doctrine.  And who were the "rebels" in truth?... the errorists!  The faithful teachers such as Albrecht were defending against the true rebels... rebels against God's Word.  The Prophets and Apostles bear witness of this.  And Martin Luther thundered against errorists while under constant attack from them.

And so I now present Albrecht's response to Theodore Graebner's teaching on "Prayer Fellowship, scanned PDF and OCR'd DOC file.  This is a truly Scriptural work – a faithful following of the pure teaching of Walther and Pieper.
Albrecht's work is a wonderful defense against Graebner who mixed error with truth.  Graebner called on Luther, Walther, Pieper, Bente, J.H.C. Fritz, C.M. Zorn and the Lutheran Confessions in a "name dropping" attempt to soothe his conscience as the new (English) LC-MS was in full swing... away from its anchor.

Albrecht also defends against the false teachings of The Statement of the Forty-Four (or "Statement of the 44").  There is some doctrinal information on the "Statement" on the Internet:
  • WELS has 2 essays: Paul Naumann 1979 here, Curtis Jahn 1981 here
  • Daniel Preus gives some background here
  • CLC has an essay here
This work of Albrecht is one of the best to counteract specific errors of the "Statement of the Forty-Four".
---------------------   Introduction   ------------------------

DR. THEO. GRAEBNER'S
"PRAYER FELLOWSHIP" IN THE LIGHT OF
SCRIPTURE AND THE FAITH OF OUR FATHERS
by Walter W.F. Albrecht
A pamphlet with the title "PrayerFellowship by Th. Graebner" and coming from the presses of Concordia Publishing House has come to my desk. On the first page it bears the note: "Pub­lished by resolution of the Conference of Visitors and Delegates of the Western District of the Ev. Luth. Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States, meeting at St. Louis, September 25, 1945." And at its very end we find as third resolution adopted by the confer­ence: "That we ask Concordia Publishing House to publish the paper on prayer fellowship by Prof. Graebner in order to make it available to other conferences." But with this the official "Min­utes of the Meeting of Visitors and Representatives of Circuits of the Western District, held at Holy Cross Hall, St. Louis, Missouri, September 25, 1945" do not seem to agree. There we read: "A motion was made and seconded that Dr. Graebner be asked to make his paper available to all brethren. The motion was carried.... A vote of thanks to Dr. Graebner for preparing and delivering his paper, for leading the discussion, and consenting to make his paper available. It was moved that the District pay the expense of sending the paper to Visitors and official delegates of the circuits." From this it appears that neither was the essay adopted, nor was Concor­dia Publishing House requested to publish it.
In considering the body of the essay we use the sectional headings used by the author to enable the reader quickly to refer to the proper page of the work discussed.
The question declared to be "basic to the current discussion of prayer fellowship" (p 3), namely "joint prayer with the represen­tatives of the A.L.C.," diverts the attention of the reader from the fact that all salient features of the Statementof the Forty-Four are being defended in this brochure. Our Synod is divided on the question of opening and closing intersynodical conferences with prayer. We have let local conditions and sentiment decide in each case, have held each instance to be a case of casuistry, following the faculty opinion of 1941. Now to tell us that common prayer at intersynodical conferences is the basic issue the Statement of the Forty-Four is striving to clarify, is nothing less than a hiding of the true issue, unionism.
--------------------  End of Part 1 - Introduction  ------------------------

The next Part 2 will be Albrecht's rebuttal to Graebner's points (1) Proof Texts, (2) Relation to Erring Christians, and (3) Prayer Not Confessional Act.

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